Thermae

From Academic Kids

The term thermae was the word the ancient Romans used for the buildings housing their public baths.

Most Roman cities had at least one, if not many, such buildings, which were centers of public bathing and socialization.

Contents

Origin of the term

The word thermae is a Latin borrowing from the Greek adjective thermos, therme, thermon (hot).

c.f. Thermopylae (the hot gates, gates of fire) thermae sc. aquae means "hot waters, hot springs".

Building layout

Within the building the baths were divided according to gender. Each gender had three pools: a hot one, a lukewarm one and a cool one. They were respectively called:

  • the caldarium (L. cal(i)dus, -a,-um "hot" cf. calor orig, calos, caloris m)
  • the tepidarium (L. tepidus,-a,-um "lukewarm" cf. L. tepeo)
  • the frigidarium (Latin frigidus,-a,-um "cold")
  • sometimes there was also a steam bath: the sudatorium
Missing image
Caldarium.JPG
Caldarium from the Roman Baths at Bath, England. The floor has been removed to reveal the empty space which the hot air used to flowed through to heat the floor.

The baths often included, aside from the three main rooms, listed above, a palaestra, or outdoor gymnasium where men would engage in various ball games and exercises. There, inter alia, weights were lifted and the discus thrown. Men would oil themselves and removes the excess with a strigil (c.f. the well known Apoxyomenus of Lysippus from the Vatican Museum).

The changing room was known as the apotyterium (Greek apotyterion, apo + duo "to take off" here of clothing).

Location

Baths sprung up all over the empire. Where natural hot springs existed (as in Bath, England) thermae were built around them. Alternatively a system of hypocausta (Greek hypocauston < hypo "below" + kaio "to burn") were utilized to heat the waters.

Remains of Roman baths

Algeria

United Kingdom

France

Germany

Italy

See also

pl:Termy fr:Thermes pt:Estância termal sv:Termer

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